An appeals court in the northern French town of Douai has postponed a ruling on whether to annul pimping charges levelled against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief.

The charges are the last sex crime case against him in France.

The court, which was due to pass the ruling on Wednesday, set December 19th for the case known as the "Carlton affair" in France. It centres around allegations that business leaders and police officials in Lille operated a vice ring supplying girls for sex parties.

Some of the parties are said to have taken place at the Carlton Hotel in the northern city.

Strauss-Kahn was once considered a frontrunner for the French presidency, but suffered a fall from grace following his arrest at a New York hotel on sexual assault charges last year.

A series of persistent and subsequent scandals involving a string of sex-related investigations in France have damaged his reputation further.

Other names included in the case include Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a police commissioner, and Rene Kojfer, the former public relations officer at the Carlton.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have requested a cessation of a judicial inquiry into claims that he and associates arranged sex parties with prostitutes.

The legal team have argued the charge of "aggravated pimping in an organised gang" has not been supported and that investigatory procedures had not been followed though in the case - which included leaks to the press.

Lawyers for Lagarde and Kojfer have claimed their clients have effectively been caught up in a political witch-hunt against Strauss-Kahn, arguing that there would have been no probe but for his involvement.

Source: Agencies